Israel to release withheld money to Palestinians

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel says it is releasing tens of millions of dollars owed to the Palestinians.

Israel froze the transfer this month to punish the Palestinians for trying to bypass peace talks and seeking recognition of their independence at the United Nations.

The Palestinians recently were accepted to the U.N. cultural agency but their broader effort for recognition as a full U.N. member state has stalled.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced Wednesday the decision to release the money was made because the Palestinians had suspended "unilateral moves."

Under past peace deals, Israel collects customs duties for the Palestinians and transfers the funds each month. The money is essential for the Palestinian government to pay tens of thousands of workers.